Sunday, April 24, 2016

Diary thoughts from the Expo

It’s a funny thing, but whenever people mention the Diary to me, they almost inevitably say that it’s great for Kilcullen people who live abroad to be able to keep in touch with what’s happening at home, writes Brian Byrne.

And I guess it is. But the bigger part of the readership is actually in Kilcullen itself. The vastly bigger part.

On the basis that the Diary is very unlikely to be of any interest unless one has a Kilcullen connection, the Google Analytics breakdown of traffic geographically is arguably a good reflection of Kilcullenite readers' location.

So here’s the top ten gen on the last month, kicking off with Ireland (likely most from the parish itself) with 86pc of all visitors to the Diary. The UK is next for readership with 5.4pc, followed by the US (3.5), Australia (1.4), Canada (0.6), Taiwan (0.5), Germany, Belgium and France (0.2pc each), and ‘not set’ at 0.3pc.

Statistics can be dry and dusty, but underpinning those figures are real live people. Kilcullen people. Of course, I don’t know exactly who looks in, except for those who sometimes stop me while walking down the street, to make a comment on something they’ve read. Sometimes they are ‘wild geese’ who are home for a visit, but mostly they are the ones who never flew away at all. Even then, they’re quite likely to be people whom I don’t actually know, such has been the expansion of Kilcullen over the last decade or so, ‘a village grown bigger’.

It is a decade or so that also mirrors the birth and growth of the Diary itself, which I set up in January 2005 without much thought about what it might become or how long it might last. It is still a day-to-day activity without a forward plan, though substantially more intense than it was 11 years ago. I sometimes use the phrase that I created ‘a monster that has to be fed every day’, but in truth it is a happy and charming monster, at least from my side of things.

All of us in our lives, if we’re lucky, find our ‘reason to be’. It can range in importance from mere interest through to absolute passion. It can be something external which entertains or intrigues us. It can be our hobby, our work and career, or our commitment to something that has nothing to do with the ‘ordinary’ part of our lives. But it marks us.

So, as we walk down the street we meet people who are dedicated to a sports club, or to a charity, or to a business, or music, or drama, or politics, or … well, or anything in the long list of interests and activities which humankind has developed around itself. All with their own stories.

Which brings me to the other thing people say when they talk about the Diary, that they don’t know how I can find enough material to keep it going virtually every day of the year. Well, there are all those stories, waiting to be told. Wanting to be told. And people wanting to hear them. It applies whether we live in a tiny village or a village grown bigger, a town or a city. The fabric of any group or population is woven from the people and their stories and their activities within it. In time, that becomes heritage.

Over this Kilcullen Enterprise Town weekend, a continuing refrain has been that ‘we didn’t know there was so much business and community stuff’ in the town. Which is very true. The initiative from Bank of Ireland provided the impetus, and a platform, for all our interests and activities to gather in one place for a few hours. So we could meet each other, find out about each other, in business and community terms. So we could expand our knowledge of ourselves as Kilcullen.

The Diary was there too. And, like all who came to the super Assembly Hall venue in Scoil Bhride, whether exhibitor or local visitor, we met new people, found out new things. We have new stories to tell, and old ones to reprise with fresh thoughts.

And this is why, from the time I first dipped my toe into the world of journalism, 45 years ago in The Bridge Magazine, I do what I do. That’s what marks me, I guess. Thanks for looking in. Hope you’ll keep doing so.